Built at Groton, Connecticut, the USS Sealion was a Sargo class submarine weighing in at 1450 tons. The Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut, laid down her keel in June of 1938 and began her construction. Commissioned in 1939, by the spring of 1940 the Sealion was sent to the Far East under the command of Lieutenant J.K. Morrison, Jr., in an attempt to strengthen the Philippine defenses as relations with Japan continued to deteriorate.
Action in World War II
At the time the Pacific war began on December 7, 1941, the Sealion was undergoing repairs at the Cavite Navy Yard located near Manila. She never made it out of the repair facility as three days later, on December 10, the facility was raided by the Japanese and the Sealion was hit with two bombs and badly damaged. One bomb struck her conning tower and another struck her main ballast tank; photographs from the Navy Yard show her in pieces and four men were killed in the attack. Not only was she damaged but she was also was partially sunk – about 40% of her deck ended up underwater.
Destruction at Manila
Even though repairs could not be made because conditions at the Navy Yard did not permit such lengthy reconstruction, all was not lost. All of her undamaged an useful equipment was taken to be used on other vessels and on December 25th 1941, before the US forces permanently left Cavite, explosives were deliberately set to get rid of her remains. She was the first US submarine to be lost in World War II, and after the war ended, the rest of the remains were taken apart.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially throughout conflicts of the last century, submarines also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. However, these risks extend beyond the inherent dangers that existed while operating the vessels during military conflicts. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were also common aboard submarines because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Furthermore, the enclosed environment of submarines put servicemen at an even higher risk of exposure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with or served on submarines should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.